VK3/VT-006 – Mt St Phillack

by vk3arr

The usual UTC New Year frenzy for VK meant I was looking this year at a 10 point summit that would yield 20 points in the usual manner. This meant a 10 pointer I hadn’t activated this year (easy – there weren’t any), and something that was relatively easy to get to for us folk on the Western side of Melbourne. My initial choice was VK3/VE-008 Mt Buller, and Allen VK3HRA and I decided we’d do a joint activation, as Allen had not made any plans at this point.

In conversation with Allen on Mt Warrenheip as we hatched the plans, I found out that it was possible that Ron VK3AFW had also alerted this summit after me. A quick email to Ron confirmed this fact, and as he had booked accommodation there, and I was keen to chase S2S points, Allen and I decided instead to tackle Mt St Phillack VK3/VT-006.

I picked Allen up from the Little River service station and we drove to the Mt Baw Baw car park. From there to Mt St Phillack is about an hour’s walk. We made good time both on the drive and on the walk – largely due to me taking big steps and walking quickly, to Allen’s chagrin.

Along the way, my 2m handheld made a noise as Tony VK3CAT set up on Toorongo Range, so we both chased him there. This was not a S2S, as we were not in the activation zone yet.

We reached the summit after about 45-50 minutes, and were bemused. It appeared like the summit cairn was gone – nothing but a hole in the ground. After a quick bit of investigation, Allen discovered we were 100m short and in the wrong clearing, so we shifted across. Allen set up his End-fed on 40m the summit cairn, and I set up the linked dipole on 20m, in a tree.

My set up was delayed repeatedly by S2S opportunities on 40m, working Paul VK5PAS, Adam VK2YK, Justin VK7TW, Andrew VK3BQ and Gerard VK2IO. I managed to get up onto 20m, and worked Ron on Mt Buller, before finishing before UTC with Tony for a S2S. Nothing was heard of the ZL activators, nor from the VK1s.

After UTC, we called for a bit on 20m, and got no reply, before Allen found Bernard VK2IB/3 on CW. I worked him using Allen’s paddle, which resulted in horrible CW from me (worse than usual!). My apologies Bernard, but we got the contact. A few more S2S with VK3AGD on Donna Buang, Paul VK5PAS and Andrew VK3BQ wrapped up 40m.

In the interim, my dipole had fallen down into a tree and my attempts to fix it had not been successful, so Allen climbed the tree and sorted it all out. We decided then to experiment a bit more with some other bands.

I had made a 6m flower pot antenna the day before to VK2ZOI’s instructions (and on the recommendation of Andrew VK1AD), so we put that up, and worked Tony first on 2m then 6m for another S2S, and worked Bernard VK3AV and Steve VK3MEG on 6m as well.

By this stage, the linked dipole had been attached to Allen’s squid pole, and after an abortive attempt where we discovered one leg was snapped, we repaired it and jumped on 20m again. We worked Rick VK4RF, John VK6NU for a S2S with my first VK6 summit, and Brett VK2VW.

We struggled continually with phone coverage at the summit, Allen spotting me via SMS when possible, and myself sending the odd text to Warren ZL2AJ who was out on a summit. We couldn’t make contact unfortunately, on 20, 15 or 10m. I will cross ‘the dutch’ at some point and work ZL summits. This is yet another case of me qualifying an association for Mountain Explorer before I’ve worked it for Mountain Hunter (VK4, all the W associations and HL also fit that boat).

All up, despite the nice walk and chat with Allen, I found this year’s UTC a bit disappointing. Conditions were poor, and my hope for 200 S2S points was only half achieved. I now sit on 909 S2S points, and hopefully I can get out on Australia Day and work the last few. My wife’s face on returning a bit later than planned means that might be unlikely for a while, though!

Less S2S points and more Brownie points.